Friday, September 30, 2005

The weekend is upon us. Steanso had a fine dining experience at lunch today with Kim, Giselle, Rosa, Channing, and Aimee, gathering tidbits of gossip and wisdom from the ladies of the County Attorney's Office before climbing onboard with them in a couple of weeks. Joining the County Attorney's Office will be a strange experience, in part because I already know so many of the people over there so well, but also because I've been listening to and watching the internal politics and machinations of that office for almost seven years, and now I'm going to be in the middle of all of that craziness. Oh well. They're good people over there.
Steanso is probably going to be heading for Houston in a couple of hours to visit the folks. I was going to spend the weekend here in Austin, but once the decision was made to move Mono E practice back to Sunday, I decided to float down to H-town to check in with the 'rents.

I don't have too much to report, really. Last night I watched the season premier of Smallville. That show is okay, but Superman still can't freaking fly. What up wit dat?

Well, not mcu to say at the moment, but maybe I'll post a bit from Ma and Pa Steanso's house this weekend if things get slow.

I hope you guys all have a good one, and for those of you in Austin, enjoy the cooler weather this weekend! It's kickass! (albeit one weekend too late for the ACL rockers)

Thursday, September 29, 2005

For those of you who don't know Mandy "The Pea" Wilson, sister of Kellie Gonzales, here she is pictured at Jazzfest, once again trying to make sense of some incomprehensible babbling put forth by her husband, Crackbass. Mandy does lots of super kickass stuff to take care of all of us, like remembering to bring snacks to the beach and making pancakes for us and making sure Crackbass doesn't fall asleep in the bathtub and drown his drunk ass. Mandy is a caretaker and nurturer of all things smaller, weaker, or stupider (and that's usually where we come in) than herself. Also, she loves Bob Marley, Coors Light, and barbecue. And sometimes Jason's Deli. Posted by Picasa

For those of you who don't know Kellie Gonzales, here she is! This is Kellie on her birthday. I think I was saying something to her like, "No, this cell phone doesn't have a camera in it. Why do you ask?" right before I took this picture. Posted by Picasa
So what's going on today? Hmmmm.... Well, Roberts was confirmed as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

That's really not all that exciting, though, nor is it unexpected.

I really have got nothing today. Hmmmm....
Crackbass and I watched most of a Bruce Campbell movie last night called The Man with the Screaming Brain. It was really awful.
Mandy's sister, Kellie, came by to go shopping with Mandy. Kellie is a fascinating kid. She works at Anne Kelso salon as a... hair stylist? I'm not sure of the title, but I don't want to get it wrong. I heard that Kellie took a swing at some guy at a party once who told her that people who worked with hair were in no way artists. And Kellie is an artist. She's definitely got the temperment, and her own ever-changing hair is proof enough in its own right of her boundless creativity (not to mention the work she does for her customers). Anyway, Kellie knows lots of people in Austin, and she pops up in the strangest places (like backstage at Los Lobos concerts). She has an old Cadillac, several tattoos, and an unshakeable affection for rockabilly music. She's dated musicians, race car mechanics, and other people I can't keep track of, and she moves through the Austin music and nightlife scene like some kind of nimble but unstoppable party ninja. Anyway, she's a true Austin character, kids, and to know her is to love her. On this day when the news is slow, I say here's to Kellie Gonzales! Long may she rock!

Oh, by the way, if I haven't said so before, Crack's next gig at Ruta Maya on Congress has been pushed back until December 2nd. I know that's a long time to remember stuff, so I'll remind you later, but I had told some people we were playing in late October/early November and that ain't happening now. We'll be playing with F for Fake and Buttercup, so there'll be other, good bands to see if Crack is not enough to entice you (you thankless bastards). We need the time to practice, anyway.

Peace out.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

By the way, I'm going to go back to allowing anonymous postings for awhile. I already got at least one complaint from someone who said that ever since I required registration, his computer hasn't been allowing him to post comments on the blog. So I'm back to letting everyone on (at least for the time being), although I prefer it when people give at least some kind of a name on their posts. Have fun and comment often!
Well God bless Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle.

Tom Delay was indicted today by a Travis County grand jury for conspiring to illegally funnel corporate donations into campaign finance coffers through his political action group, TRMPAC. Why do I say God bless Ronnie Earle? Well, it's not because I think he's playing partisan politics and simply causing problems for powerful Republicans. Instead, I'm impressed that Earle is willing to pursue prosecution against Delay despite the fact that Delay will undoubtedly use his position of power as House of Representatives Majority Leader (a position he has currently stepped down from) to launch smear attacks against Earle and generally try to make the district attorney's life as difficult as possible. If the fact that Ronnie Earle is a Democrat has any bearing on delay's case at all, it comes in the fact that there are at least a few non-Republican officals left down in texas who are not going to toe the Republican party line. I don't believe that Earle is playing party politics on this issue or committing some evil act by going after Delay. I think that Earle is doing the right thing- following the law and refusing to overlook Delay's corruption when others have been afraid or unwilling to do so. You go, Ronnie! Your willingness to stand up to Republican corruption and threats just might remind the rest of the country that there are still a few people trying to do the right thing down here in Texas.
Not too much else to report. I'm still trying to transfer my criminal cases to other attorneys and get ready to start my new job. I went over to the Shaw house last night. Meredith is growing like a weed (or like a Weedo?? Get it? Weedo??). She joined us for some of the Bob Dylan documentary on PBS before cartwheeling off to bed.
I spent some time down at the Social Security office today getting a new card for my new jobby job. Boy, is the federal government ever a model of efficiency. Some of the "customers" in the office had apparently been waiting for over three hours, and when one of them bitched, some clerk came out from behind the counter and told us that we were lucky we didn't live in San Marcos because down at that office we would have to sit in line for five hours. I fueled the insurgency by pointing out to the people in line that the inefficiency in San Marcos didn't make this office any better- it just made San Marcos even sh*ttier. Anyway, by the time I got to the front of the line, I had made some new friends and learned to refer to federal employees as motherf*ckers in several different languages. I still don't see why that line was moving so slowly. From what I could see, even a monkey could have processed our paperwork more quickly than the people behind the counter in that office.
Well, that's it for now. Peace out, chitlins.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

This is kind of interesting.

Karen P. Hughes, a senior Bush administration official acting under the Secretary of State, was sent as an envoy to Saudi Arabia, in part to raise awareness about American ideals and women's rights in the Muslim world. On Tuesday she spoke to a group of approximately 500 Muslim women at a Saudi Arabian university. Many of the women in attendance were university faculty members and professionals, and they challenged several of Ms. Hughes' premises in the discussion session following her address. Several of the women, one of them a doctor, told Hughes that they resented the Western presumption that Muslim women were generally unhappy. Some women stated that despite their inability to vote or to drive cars, they felt that they were treated with less chauvinism in Saudi Arabia than in Europe or America. The women argued that many traditional aspects of their society (which restrict women from such actions as voting or driving cars) were embraced by both men and women, and each gender was recognized as having its own role to play within the Muslim culture.
I found this article interesting. The idea of having a society where women (or any subsection of a society, for that matter) are respected in some ways but limited in others is kind of wierd. On the one hand, my sense of cultural relativism tells me that maybe its wrong for us to impose our belief system on these people if their women are truly happy. If women as a collective subset of Muslim society decide that it's okay to give away some of their freedoms in exchange for preserving their cultural heritage, who am I to say that this decision is wrong? Maybe Muslim women, as a group, need to know that their role in Muslim society is clearly defined and respected by the law. Maybe giving up certain rights doesn't indicate a state of inequality to Muslim women. Maybe they just don't see things that way. Is that possible?
On the other hand, I believe that the Muslims in this discussion were missing at least one key point which was poorly explained by Ms. Hughes. The western concept of personal civil liberties is supposed to guarantee that any single person who wants to vote or drive or live in equality with the opposite sex has the right to do so. We're not just about civil liberties for women as a group (because women, or any subgroup, may internally become tyrannical toward its own members). We want civil liberties to be available to any member of the society which wants to enjoy them. If some women within the group wish to choose a traditional lifestyle, that should be fine for them to pursue, but the choice of traditional women to surrender their rights should not preclude other (perhaps less traditional) women from taking advantage of their civil liberties if they so choose. American freedom is supposed to be about majority rule, but with certain inalienable protections for the minority (those basic freedoms coming in the form of civil rights).
So basically what I'm saying is that if even one Muslim woman wants to be able to vote or drive or take advantage of any other right that men have, then equality should guarantee her that right, even in the face of a majority who claim that they are happy with a more traditional set of values. Some Muslim women may be happy with the status quo, but that fact shouldn't restrict the civil liberties of other women who are left watching men take advantage of freedoms which they do not possess (by right of nothing more than birth). If we want to recognize the fundamentally equal value of all human beings (a belief in true human equality), than we have to legislate civil rights for all people. What each person chooses to do with his rights is up to the individual.
Man, am I gettin' silly. It's late. Did you really read all of this?
Man, Steanso hasn't had much time to blink or think today, let alone blog. I've been trying to take care of court cases, wrap up my current caseload, and begin to get ready to begin my new job in the County Attorney's Office. In addition, Steanso is still feeling kind of allergy-ish in this post ACL week. Maybe it's got nothing to do with all of that dust, or maybe it does, but either way, Steanso is a little stuffy, runny, and scratchy.
And how about this?

Penguins in the Falkland Islands are making use of areas infested with landmines, remnants of the 1982 Falkland Island War between British and Argentinian forces. Apparently the penguins are not heavy enough to set off the landmines (there's some motivation for staying trim), and humans have been avoiding the dangerous zones for decades because of the lethal devices.
Pretty cool. Penguins take advantage of human stupidity to reclaim their breeding grounds. You go, penguins!
Apparently some Japanese researchers have finally managed to film some living giant squids on film. This may not mean a lot to most of Steanso's readers, but Steanso is kind of a sucker for wildlife documentaries, and he's been watching and reading about scientitsts trying to film these things for years. The giant squids really are pretty giant (apparently growing up to 60 feet in length), and up until now, no one has ever seen one alive. Instead, every couple of years they would drag one or two of these giant monsters out of fishing nets, but they were always dead by the time anyone got a chance to inspect them. It was almost like the Loch Ness Monster, because you knew these giant animals were out there, but you never saw one in the wild. The these Japanese dudes drop a camera a few thousand feet down with some bait and and... yar!!! Giant squid!!! So cool.
Can't wait to see the video. Or photos. Or whatever they got.
And of course, this

Michael Brown, former director of FEMA, appeared before a House panel and placed much of the blame for the problems with the Hurricane Katrina disaster response at the feet of Louisiana's elected officials. Specifically, he blamed Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco and New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin as being ineffectual in dealing with the crisis.

I may be wrong, but here's the way I see it. As director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Brown's entire career was supposed to be about anticipating disasters and efficiently implementing plans to deal with those disasters when they occurred. The jobs of the mayor and the governor, on the other hand, were primarily to oversee the day to day operations of their respective consitutuencies. sure, the mayor and the governor need to be able to respond, make decisions, and lend leadership in a time of crisis, but this is one, relatively small component of their larger mission in their designated roles. Dealing with disaster was Michael Brown's only role. The governor and the mayor, although powerful people in their own right, were in effect victims of the hurricane along with their constituents. They tried to lend moral support and leadership, but their entire support system was devastated. Cops, firefighters, and health care officials in their state were all themselves victims of Katrina. Help was needed from the outside, and it didn't come.
Brown also charges that the state responses in Mississippi and Alabama (both states with Republican leadership as opposed the Democrat leadership in Louisiana, incidentally) were far superior to the response in Louisiana. My initial response is that Mississippi and Alabama, while ravaged by Katrina, had faced the worst of their disasters by the time that the hurricane passed through their borders. After the destruction of the storm, there was nothing to do but pick up and rebuild. The horrors in New Orleans, however, just kept on going as the floodwaters rose and desperation in the city grew.
Some might counter by saying that New Orleans was a fluke and that Brown couldn't have anticipated the flooding that followed the hurricane. Anyone who has looked at the studies, read the newspaper reports, and even seen the documentaries knows, however, that the predictions of the New Orleans disaster were plentiful and loud- that people had been warning of the flooding dangers to New Orleans for years without getting much of a response.
Even more disconcerting, Brown was the director of the agency responsible for responding to disasters in the case of terrorist attacks. If chemical or biological agents were ever released in a major metropolitan area, we need FEMA to be capable of more than coming in to clean up the mess after the disaster occurs. We need an agency which can be there to help people as the potential tradgedy is unfolding.
Anyway, Brown's excuses were lame, but he was a Bush appointee who held a position he probably didn't belong in, in an agency which is probably chock full of people who received plum government jobs as rewards for political favors, but who don't actually have that much skill or experience in dealing with large scale catastrophe. In the end, once again, I mostly blame the White House for turning FEMA into such a bloated, ridiculous organization. This administration promises us safety and security, but they deliver incompetence and defensive excuses? What's new?

Monday, September 26, 2005

By the way, I want to thank Nhut Tan "Newt" Tran for sending me this link. This is some seriously crazy sheeyat.,,1577753,00.html

It is important to note that in no way do I intend to vouch for the veracity of this story, but apparently the Observer is reporting that the U.S. military may have lost some dolphins during Hurricane Katrina who were trained to attack people, allegedly by way of poison darts affixed to harnesses on their heads and other means. Leave it to the military to turn friendly dolphins into the ninja assassins of the sea. Anyway, the story largely rests on a report made by 72 year old accident investigator Leo Sheridan in which he divulged information which he had gained from the U.S. marine fisheries service. The Navy launched the classified Cetacean Intelligence Mission in San Diego in 1989, and is rumored to have had dolphin training facilities near Lake Ponchatrain along the Louisiana coast. The rumors regarding the missing dolphins were spread last week when the Navy insisted on inspecting several dolphins which were recovered from the ocean last week after being washed out to sea from a commercial oceanarium on the Mississippi coast. The Navy handed the dolphins back over to the oceanarium after inspection, apparently satisfied that these were not the animals they had been looking for.
I just wrote a long post about all of the bands and stuff that I saw at ACL Fest, but it all got erased. I don't have the energy to retype it right now, but suffice it to say that the festival was really good. Lots of friends were there, and the music was great. It was a little warm and dusty, but we perservered, and the music was worth it.
The Saturday night afterparty was also fun. Thanks to all of you who came (especially Killer Kraber and Rami)! Thanks for the elf cupcakes and queso, Rami!

I am soooo tired, and I have a lot to do this week. New job coming up! Yikes!

And here we have Sigmund "Rusty" Bloom, proud member of Crack as well as Team Bloom. While Sigmund looks fairly calm in this picture, internally he is a writhing cauldron of rock and roll angst, preparing to unleash his fury at the first sign of music. Posted by Picasa

Here we have Jackbart guarding the Crack festival flag at Camp X-Ray, our base camp. Many, many people became familiar with the Crack flag throughtout the course of the weekend. Jackbart clearly hates AMD, as you can see by the anti-AMD fan in his hand. We had to eventually talk Jackbart down after he tackled a few concertgoers. He was operating under the erroneous assumption that they were trying to "capture" our flag. Posted by Picasa

Here we find Weedo and Erock (both of them sad members of the Mono E) on the first day of the ACL Fest. In the background you can see Jay trying to figure out what kind of insect he just swallowed with his beer... Posted by Picasa

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Well, Hurricane Rita continues to bear down upon the Gulf Coast, although new storm predictions say that it will probably land somewhere to the east of Houston, so hopefully the family homestead of Ma and Pa Steanso will be spared. Steanso especially hopes that this will be true since apparently Ma and Pa have decided to ride out the storm in Houston rather than evacuating. This may be ever so slightly Steanso's fault since when the parents called to see if Steanso could put them up this weekend, Steanso had to tell them that this wasn't really the best time for them to pop in (Steanso is already having one or two houseguests for ACL, plus Steanso is having a party on Saturday night). Steanso's cousin, Susie Q, also lives in Austin, I hasten to add, so the parentals could have stayed there, and Steanso did tell Ma and Pa that they could stay at the Hop-A-Long Lounge if they couldn't make other arrangements, but now they're staying in Houston, so with Steanso's luck, he'll probably be watching his mother being airlifted from the roof of her house by helicopter sometime this weekend.

In other news, Steanso went to the Willie Nelson Hurricane Katrina benefit last night. Steanso had never seen Willie before, so this was kind of a big deal. Willie sang lots of his most popular songs, and put in a good performance. The Neville Brothers played as well, and they were really rockin'.
The worst thing about the evening was that the performance took place in the Erwin Center, and the security people there were Nazis. Every time people started dancing and having a good time, security was all over them to make sure that they didn't move away from their seats or into the aisles or anything. A giant conga line started at one point, but security immediately freaked out and shut it down. The crowd was already kind of subdued, anyway, and this had an even bigger chilling effect on the whole event. It made me kind of mad. Here are the Neville Brothers up there on stage, rocking their butts off, and Austin's crowd can't seem to get into it, largley because of the tightasses in security who are afraid of a lawsuit than concerned about whether the crowd is having any fun.
Here's the thing, Austin wants to be the live music capital of the world, but at the same time, we want to pass smoking ordinances and noise ordinances and make rules about where people can dance? As these displaced musicians from New Orleans know, art (i.e., music) doesn't exactly flourish in a sterile, overly regulated enviroment. Art takes shape in the periphery of society's day to day structure, and if you cut out all of the stuff where people are coloring outside of the lines, you end up with a pretty boring place to be. We need to make sure people don't burn to death in fires (and enforcing the fire codes, I assume, is the reason why they were being Nazis about the dancing), but I'm pretty sure that a little wiggling in the aisles isn't going to actually hurt anyone (and if you're serious about protecting your patrons, you wouldn't sell them copious amounts of beer, right? but there's too much money in that to put a stop to it...). The good that comes out of having a happy, engaged listening audience outweighs whatever teensy, tiny bit of increased safety that we gather by stopping dancing or preventing people from having a smoke. I guess that all of this stuff falls under the category of keeping Austin wierd, but I'm trying to say that there's a deeper meaning behind that dogmatic phrase. Art doesn't grow in boring, sterile, overly-regulated enviroments, and it occurred to me as I watched all of these displaced New Orleans musicians that if we want to actually have even a fraction of what New Orleans has (or had) in terms of its music and art culture, we need to keep our minds open and recognize the importance of being a little funky.

Does any of this make any sense? I just don't want Austin to turn into a city of noise regulations, smoking regulations, fire code regulations, TABC regulations, and god knows what other kind of rules. If we keep going down that road, we're not going to be a true city of music- instead we're going to be more like some Disneyfied, sanitized version of a music city, like some musical version of a shopping mall, where everything is about the presentation, but there's no soul below the corporate facade.

OK, end of rant. Keep coloring outside the lines, you beautiful Austin groovers, and be sure to boo the dance Nazis when they try to rain on your parade.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005


Despite Steanso's erroneous predictions (or maybe because of them- I'm looking at you, God), Hurricane Rita has apparently strengthened to a Category 4 hurricane and is now headed for the Texas Gulf Coast. The storm may go to Mexico or Louisiana, but it looks like it's headed for our beloved Lone Star State.

Why do these hurricanes seem to be more frequent and strnger than they've been in the recent past? At least one possible explanation lies in global warming (surprise, surprise).

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (a subdepartment of the Department of Commerce) has a division called the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory which has been running simulations of future hurricanes based upon rising global temperatures caused by increased carbon dioxide buildup in the Earth's atmosphere. Although their work has not shown whether increased temperatures from the so-called greenhouse effect will cause more hurricanes, their research has shown that global warming is likely to increase the strength of future hurricanes, both in terms of rainfall and wind strength, as temperatures continue to rise in the years ahead.

These increases in hurricane strength are only one of many reasons why the Bush administration's failure to recognize the reality and significance of global warming is so troublesome.

The Bush administration has already refused to join in with the Kyoto treaty, a document which was joined by 37 other industrialized nations who pledged to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases by 33 percent in the coming years. Bush cited possible damage to the U.S. economy as well as unconvincing science as reasons for refusing to join in the accord (this latter argument despite overwhelming beliefs by climate researchers that global warming is already occurring). This probably wasn't much comfort to the Kyoto member nations who recognize, by and large, the U.S. as being the number one polluter in the world when it comes to the release of gases which have a negative impact on global warming. One more reason America is number one!

Anyway, the long and the short of my rant is that the increasing damage that we're seeing from these hurricanes may be just one of the more noticeable effects that we're seeing from global warming, but how are we going to begin to confront the problem when our leaders won't even acknowledge that a problem exists? Grrrrr....
I really don't see how this is necessary:

Apparently the Labor Department has granted exemptions to its usual affirmative action policies for contractors who are working on rebuilding storm ravaged portions of the Gulf Coast states following Hurricane Katrina. They say that the measure is meant to clear up bureacracy and allow companies to "jump right in" and start helping with rebuilding efforts.
But wouldn't it make sense to try to employ some of the poorest, most disadvantaged people who lived in the region- people who were effected the most in the first place? The economic boost provided by employing some of the Gulf Coast's most economically damaged victims might be worth the effort of encouraging out-of-state contractors to hire minorities (especially in New Orleans, where more than half of the population is black), even if the process involves a little more bureacracy. I don't want to sound too hippie, but isn't it worth a little bit of "red tape" if we can help rebuild some of these people's lives and help them return to their livelihoods while we work on repairing broken buildings? At least in the case of New Orleans, to cancel affirmative action requirements for contractors at this point sends a message that a bunch of white guys are going to get wealthy off of rebuilding a city that was once populated largely by minorities. Suspending affirmative action sends a message that a bunch of white guys will be amassing their fortunes by way of a tradgedy that befell the New Orleans community, and that the large minority community which makes up much of the population of New Orleans is not meant to be part of the rebuilding effort. Furthermore, it does not appear that the federal government sees the employment and financial recovery of this damaged population as a priority. This is the message that some evacuees are sure to read in the governement's actions, and when you see the rebuilding effort as an opportunity that someone has made built upon your misfortune, it doens't feel like help for very long. It feels like exploitation.

By the way, I hear that Bush is cutting fair wage laws during the recovery effort as well. The theory is that these companies can do more to help for less money if they don't have to pay their laborers as much. I wonder how many CEOs are taking pay cuts in order to help out the recovery efforts?

It is so late. Does any of this make sense? I need to go to sleep.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

I don't know how bad this new hurricane is going to be, but people along the gulf coast are understandably a little twitchy about it.

Hurricane Rita has barely made it past the Florida Keys, and already my parents are making phone calls from Houston, warning me that they're coming to stay at my house when the hurricane makes its way towards Houston. Killer said that she was supposed to play in a pool tournament in Brenham this weekend, but it's already been cancelled on account of the hurricane. The attorneys from the Travis County Attorney's Office are supposed to be headed for a conference in Corpus Christi over the next few days (or somewhere thereabouts), and already the rumors are spreading about leaving early if an evacuation order gets issued.

Anyway, I think the whole thing is going to get way overblown (no pun intended) in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Hopefully Rita will never get nearly as strong as Katrina, and it may even end up heading toward Mexico. Still, given the devastation that we've seen after the last storm, you can understand why people are being super cautious.

Only a few days until ACL Fest. I've got my wristband, and I'm ready to rock. I hope it's not too sweltering out there. Maybe this hurricane can bring us some clouds. Don't forget about the ACL afterparty on Saturday night at my house (that's at 4604 Tejas- I think the hooker house is at 4510 or something like that if you want to stop there first). Anyway, we'll provide some Lone Star beer and some sangria, but other from that it's BYOB. Festivities start at around 10:00 or so, and Crack will put on a small performance of some sort (come for the freaks- stay for the fun!).

I must complete my flag tonight for Camp X-Ray so people can find us at the festival. I'm not sure what the flag will look like yet, but rest assured that the word "CRACK" will prominently be displayed upon it.

Kim Bloom was also in attendance at lunch. She is a trooper, and will be one of the gang at ACL Fest. In this photo she is enjoying some music at Jazzfest with Crackbass and Mandy Wilson. This, of course, occurred in New Orleans which has now become a watery hellhole (hopefully to soon be reclaimed by our extremely capable government). Posted by Picasa

I went to lunch today with Jennifer "Killer" Kraber and "Reasonable" Rosa Theofanis. They had enchiladas and a framed burger, respectively. We spent a great deal of time talking about hurricanes and hurricane evacuation plans and their potential impact upon pool tournaments and prosecutor conferences. Posted by Picasa

Monday, September 19, 2005

Well, the weekend has come and gone and ACL Fest week is upon us.

On Saturday I took Cassidy to Barton Springs for some swimming during the day after doing yard work. Saturday night found large numbers of our Western Trails neighbors gathered across the street from the sex house in protest of their apparently thriving business. Our feisty neighbors, apparently having grown tired of the increasing traffic in our 'hood between 1:00 a.m. and 4:00 a.m. and having grown sick of the liquor bottles and condom boxes left on our streets, congregated in one of the yards across the street from the sex house and snapped pictures of the customers showing up at the brothel. The neighbors had signs that said things like, "Your business is not welcome here!" Jackbart, Andy F., and Rami showed up over the course of the evening, in part as a show of solidarity, but in larger part to drink beer and laugh at the whole scene. The lady who runs the sex house (we call her a madame, although that may not technically be correct) came out and bitched at us a little, and several of the customers gave us the one finger salute or yelled insults, but overall, I don't know how much of a deterrent effect that we had. The cops showed up, but once again told us that they couldn't do anything because they didn't have probable cause to enter the house. This excuse on the part of the cops pisses me off a little because after 7 years of working as a criminal defense attorney, I've seen the cops launch undercover stings countless times for things as mundane as people selling cigarrettes without collecting the appropriate taxes on them (not to mention the dozens of undercover prostitution stings I've seen them launch in order to arrest johns in the Rundberg area) .

Sunday I went back to Barton Springs, sans Cassidy, so I could swim some laps and get some sun. Sunday night we had Mono E practice and rocked a moderate amount. The practice was especially notable in the fact that we covered at least two Huey Lewis songs during the course of the evening.

Roundball called yesterday, and the missus, Jamie McSteans, is off to Cleveland this week to see a specialist about her migraines. Before the whole process is over, apparently she may have to have some kind of nerve cutting procedure, so let's all send her positive vibes and wish her well. That kid has gone through the medical wringer more times than... well, I don't have a good point of comparison, but she's been through a lot. Good vibes, people.

ACL Fest this week. Steanso will be hosting an afterparty on Saturday night at the Hop-A-Long Lounge, so put on your drinking hats. If you're all good, maybe, just maybe, Crack will put on a brief (very brief) performance.

And dear god do I miss this man:

To briefly summarize, Clinton points out the irresponsibility of continuing to make tax cuts (more than half of which go exclusively to the wealthiest 1% of our nation) while borrowing money from countries like Saudi Arabia and China in order to finance two wars and hurricane disaster relief. We're borrowing money from coutries in which the average citizen makes significantly less money than in the United States, and in so doing, we are weakening the U.S. economy (making our exports worth less and their imports cost more). We're increasing the American deficit, and financing a war by borrowing money from other countries- a policy which has never been employed before in the history of the United States.
Essentially, Clinton gives enough credit to the American public to think that they can accept tax increases if the need for the increases are explained to them (and if, of course, the need for these increases are rational and justifiable- which will raise a whole new set of questions about how badly the American taxpayer feels a need to be in Iraq). At any rate, Bill thinks that continuing to cut taxes for the extremely wealthy while digging the country into ridiculous debt is not responsible, and I would have to say that he's right.
Remember when our biggest national scandals dealt with blow jobs in the Oval Office instead of launching wars that kill tens of thousands of people on the basis of fabricated intelligence? We miss you, Bill!!!

Friday, September 16, 2005

In one last note before the weekend, let me say that despite my recent tirades, I do not actually harbor a vicious bloodlust toward all conservatives. My father works in the oil industry, and despite the fact that he claims to be an independent, he's basically a conservative at heart (although even he has had it with George W. Bush lately). I was raised in a house with a somewhat liberal (although very religious) mother, and a fairly conservative father who is a Vietnam veteran and who works in finance in the oil industry. I understand fiscal and social conservativism, and sometimes I can even relate to it.
I attended the Republican convention in '92 with my parents just so I could see a national political convention (my dad got us tickets), and Rep. Bill McCollum (R- FL) and his wife, who were old friends of my parents, had dinner with us (while his wife stayed at our house) during the '92 convention (ironic since I later ended up volunteering on the Clinton campaign and then Bill later ended up helping to lead the charge for the Clinton impeachment hearings).
Anyway, all of this is to say that I don't just exercise knee-jerk reactions to conservative viewpoints (or at least I try not to). Even in my own family I have had to come to understand and relate to viewpoints that are different than my own. But even within the family it was understood that the expression of one's views needed to be supportable with facts and logic. I'm used to hearing conservative views- it's just that in the end, I typically don't find their arguments very persuasive or convincing. Still, I'm willing to discuss politics with people of any viewpoint if they can do so rationally and without making personal attacks.
So you conservatives out there, go ahead and do it it you're listening. Step into the ring. I'm willing to hear arguments about why the war is a good thing or about why it's a good idea to selectively prosecute gays for firecode violations or about why the federal government has actually done a good job in managing Katrina disaster relief. Actually, even if you didn't convince me of your position, it would be nice just to know that there's a logical argument out there which might sustain some of these positions. It might make the whole state of the world seem a little less surreal. And I promise not to erase your posts unless you turn into a potty mouth.
Well, George W. made a speech to the nation last night which was intended to allay the nation's fears regarding the Hurricane Katrina rebuilding effort and the incredible costs which are going to be associated with it.

George was quick to state that taxes would not be raised in order to pay for the rebuilding effort, stating that the $200 billion or so in rebuilding costs would need to be covered by cuts in federal spending in other areas.
$200 billion worth of cuts in federal services? Unless Bush is ready to bring the war to a rapid close (which we all know is a laughable possibility), I don't really know where he thinks these cuts are going to come from. The possibility that Bush was more concerned with appeasing people's fears about tax cuts than helping the evacuees is kind of inappropriate at the moment.

The speech was too little too late, and it sounds like Bush is just planning to try to borrow our way out of this crisis, digging the nation into even deeper debt instead of actually confronting the issues that we're currently faced with (the old Regan era trick of just writing hot checks on behalf of the federal government is a tried and true Republican favorite- pass the debt on to future taxpayers and avoid the pain of making current taxpayers unhappy by raising taxes in the present).
And Republican strategists and commentators are already on CNN and Fox News bitching about the fact that the president is vowing to spend the money necessary to rebuild New Orleans. I find their whining to be pretty incredible given the amount of money that we're spending on the Iraq War. We can't spend money to help Americans rebuild their homes, and yet we continue to funnel money into a quagmire in Iraq which was not only a mistake in the first place, but which doesn't even seem to have any kind of potentially positive outcome in the foreseeable future?

Iraq just gets worse and worse, with the insurgents mounting increasing numbers of attacks (even in and around Baghdad), but for the past week or two, the rapidly increasing death toll has been eclipsed by the Hurricane Katrina story.
Jeez, I hate this administration.

In other news, last night I attended the Western Trails Neighborhood Association with the Wilsons. The neighbors are really fired up about the sex house/brothel down the street, and it sounds like some of them are planning to protest some big party that's supposed to happen at the sex house this weekend (apparently the sex house's web page says that there's a masquerade ball this weekend). Anyway, if anyone wants to come sit in the Wilson's front yard and drink a beer and stare at the johns on Saturday night, just come on by. It's the new neighborhood pastime.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

After reading what I wrote in my last post and thinking it over a bit, I've decided that I'm not going to take comments on The Adventures anymore from Anonymous posters. Initially I didn't want to do this because it takes any extra few moments to register yourself as a user (and I wanted to encourage as many comments as possible), but having hosted this blog for awhile, I've come to the conclusion that if people want to say something in the comments section, they need to be prepared to take some kind of responsibilty for what they say, at least in the most rudimentary kind of way. I realize that it's not as if people can't put fake names in there, but at least someone has to open an account and put a name on their comment before posting. It forces people to own what they say in some kind of way. It gives us something to know you by when we're firing back responses. That's all I want.
Maybe I'm just trying to prevent the comments section of The Adventures from turning into a bunch of mindless, scribbled curse words on the bathroom wall. If we're going to make bathroom graffitti here on The Adventures, it should at least be interesting.
Anyway, that's it. I just wanted to explain in case people noticed the change. Sorry, Rami. I know you always put your initials on your anonymous posts (which I appreciate), but you're going to have to register now so we can hear your little elf voice!
I just wrote an angry post about how the people who didn't like my statements about the tomfoolery in Round Rock, and how they were an angry, foolish bunch of people who's self-worth was dependent upon the fictitious belief that they were somehow inherently superior to another group of people. All that stuff is still true, but after playing with Cassidy for awhile, I decided that the post was too angry and I erased it.
I just hate it when people try to bring me down to their own level by calling me self-righteous or by saying, "C'mon, we're all white, wealthy, southern heterosexuals here. We all know that it's okay to make fun of the blacks and the queers every once in awhile, right?."
I don't want it and I don't need it.
I'm a middle class six foot six white guy who was raised in the church and who's lived in Texas for the vast majority of his life. Statistically for the area where I live, I'm about as in the majority as you can get. Still, that's never made me right in a single argument, nor do I think it entitles me to feel a single bit more important or worthwhile than anyone else. Fortunately, I was raised that to believe otherwise is ignorance. Still, I'm open to hear counterarguments. As long as you're not a chickensh*t who posts anonymous comments. Jeez, I hate that.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Well, it's good to see that no matter how progressive and forward thinking Austin becomes, there is still a home for traditional, redneck Texas biggotry just a short distance to our north...

Saradora's Coffeehouse, a decade-old establishment in Round Rock, received their first ever visit from the city's fire marshall after city officials received numerous complaints about the "immoral" nature of a drag show which the coffeehouse hosted on Friday night and the crowd of 150 or so people who attended it. The show contained no nudity or profane language, and Round Rock Mayor Nyle Maxwell said that the complaints that he had received primarily were concerns about the fact that the show seemed to be promoting homosexuality. Although the owner of the coffee shop, Sarah Roberts, now admits that the crowd may have exceeded the shop's occupancy limit, she states that prior events at her shop, including anniversary parties and Christian CD release parties, have drawn larger crowds without attracting the attention of the fire marshall.
Having practiced law for a number of years in Williamson County, Georgetown, and Round Rock, Steanso has long been fascinated by the way in which these communities have continued growing at an exponential rate while still trying to hang on to what they perceive to be "small town values" and "conservative morals".
And some of that stuff is fine. Small town values are great if by making such a reference you're talking about getting to know your neighbors, pitching in to help one another as a community in times of hardship, and working together to insure that your community has a high standard of living in terms of education, infrastructure, police and fire protection, and overall quality of life. The dark side of "small town values", however, includes xenophobia and intolerance, a feeling that people from the outside will bring in their own cultural or moral values, and that these will somehow taint the "small town charm" of the straight, white, conservative, protestant southerners who grew up in the area.
I've seen how these "traditional" small town values play out in court. A man who drives drunk, running the risk of killing carloads of families, gets a slap on the wrist because he's perceived as a "good ol' boy" who's just engaged in the finely-honed and long-held Texan art of drinking and driving. A guy who gets caught smoking marijuana in his own home, however, is seen as either a hippie or some other form of outsider (most likely bringing drugs into their community from Austin or some other big city), and he ends up doing time in jail as well as probation, even though his actions, in reality, were far less harmful than those of the traditional Texas drunk. I've seen cases of domestic abuse get summarily dismissed in Williamson County because the wife asks for the charges to be dropped, even though studies now show that wives consistently lie to protect abusive husbands, even when future abuse is entirely likely. Once again, dismissing these cases are the way that things have traditionally been handled within their system of "small town values", and the people in these counties seem unwilling to change their ways just because some liberal social worker tells them that their dismissals are contributing to the cycle of violence.
Well, you've already grown bigger, Round Rock, so now it's time to grow up. You're the home to Dell, one of the world's biggest computer manufacturers, as well as Samsung. Thousands upon thousands of people have made their homes in your communities because you wanted thriving industry (and a strong tax base) and invited these people in. Now you have to learn how to live together with people who might seem a little different than you, but who by and large, mean you no harm (working in the tech sector, a lot of these newcomers are pretty well educated, but I'm not sure whether that's calming or increasing the fears of the locals). Like it or not, Round Rock and Georgetown aren't really small towns anymore, and they're definitely still growing. There are going to be more and more minorities, homosexuals, hippies, and every other manner of person moving into your towns, and if you want to avoid some major growing pains, you better move tolerance to the top of your list of small town values. C'mon and join the new millenium! We're celebrating diversity over here! You'll make some new friends, and it's kind of fun once you get used to it.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Also, I just wanted to say that I've been watching some of the Roberts confirmation hearings, and I hate to say it, but so far he sounds like a pretty reasonable guy. I know that Crackbass feels that Roberts will tear off his mask and reveal a demonic countenance of true hate and loathing once he is confirmed as justice, but I'm not so sure. Roberts seems to be a big fan of Chief Justice Rehnquist (whom he clerked for), and although Rehnquist was generally considered to be a conservative, he was a fairly moderate justice who seemed to try to follow precedent and the rule of law rather than adhering to party lines. Roberts has claimed to be against judicial activism and a firm believer in stare decisis, so hopefully he'll leave Roe and Miranda alone, and he claims to be a strong believer in the separation of powers, so hopefully he won't let the president or congress push him around once he's on the bench. In statements this morning, he also swore that he was a big believer in The Bill of Rights, even in times of war. That's gonna be important because this "War on Terror" could last for the rest of our lifetime, and I don't really feel like hearing every Nazi who comes along claiming that they need to suspend my civil rights because the U.S. is in a state of war.
In the end, I think he's either about as good a candidate as we could have hoped for given the current administration, or else he's an absolute evil genius who's done an incredible job of ingratiating himself with the public and the media. Either way, I revert back to the argument that I've made earlier about Roberts being better than a lot of the other potential Bush nominees. And if he does turn out to be an evil genius, at least he'll be a genius, and that's more than I can say for what the White House has had to offer over the last five years.

Pictures or no pictures?

Well, Steanso's photo experiment has met with mixed reviews. Larry Lee Thweatt, longtime hermano of Steanso, believes that the pictures take away from the overall mystery and message of The Adventures (see the comments section attached to Cassidy's picture). I understand what he's saying. Steanso has also had experiences with what L.T. calls "the D.J. effect" in which you get used to imagining a voice, a writer, or a singer in a particular way, and then you finally see a picture of them and it blows the whole thing to pieces. The mystique of the disembodied voice lets our imagination fill in the blanks in whatever way we deem appropriate. I like that effect, and it's part of the reason I'm so down on all of these reality shows on MTV that follow performers around and tell you every detail about their lives. I remember the days when I would just stare at vinyl record albums and try to imagine what kind of crazy people could have possibly recorded the sounds on the record.
On the other hand, Steanso has a tremendous love of photography and the feelings and moods that it evokes. I'm definitely not saying that my own photographs always manage to pull this off, but my favorite photographs are ones that carry more information about the subject than just a reproduction of a surface image. I like pictures let you know something about the person in them, rather than just blandly showing you the person's face. The pictures which I posted were all taken on prior occasions with a regular old 35 mm camera and were scanned into the computer (meaning they weren't just digital camera snapshots that were taken just to be thrown up on the blog).
Anyway, I definitely wasn't planning on making the photos a daily part of The Adventures (mostly because that would mean more work for me), but I was thinking that I might include some of my favorite shots from time to time, mostly because personally, I like photographs.

I'm definitely going to avoid posting pictures of myself (I clearly need to keep some mystique going in that department), but maybe I'll leave it an open question for other readers and see what kind of reaction I get to the picture question. So post your comments people. Pictures or no pictures? What do you think?

Monday, September 12, 2005

And last for today, but certainly not least, comes Cassidy, the magical pup. Cassidy firmly believes that having your picture taken will steal your soul, so I have to kind of sneak up on her when I want to take her picture. I get a lot of people's souls that way. Posted by Picasa

Here's a picture of Weedo "Weed" Shaw, Mono E drummer and friend of Steanso since 6th grade. The original picture got a little scratched, but it's still a good one. Weedo and I have shared many adventures together over the years...
Weedo is the husband of Jen, the father of Meredith "Quickdraw" Shaw, and the brother of Heather. Weed studies football incessantly, and he will swell up and drop dead if you shove a handful of peanuts into his mouth. Weedo will always be a Minnesotan in exile, and a disciple of mystic rhythms. Posted by Picasa

Also, here are Steanso's Mum and Dod at the Pike Street Market in Seattle. They're some good folks, and look how much fun they're having looking at fruit!! Actually, I couldn't really ask for more in the 'rents department. We don't see eye to eye on everything, but they're pretty nonjudgemental about most things. Hats off to Mum and Dod. Posted by Picasa

Here is New Orleans. It's one of Steanso's favorite places in the world, but it's mostly under water now. This picture was taken when we attended Jazzfest last spring. We stayed at the Quarter House, and we rocked hard for three days. Moments before I took this picture, I realized that New Orleans had mugged me for roughly a hundred dollars worth of party supplies that had gone missing from our room the night before. Such is the ebb and flow of life in The Big Easy. Posted by Picasa

Here we have Crackbass and Andy F. They are members of Crack, and Crackbass makes frequent visits to The Adventures. Posted by Picasa
Crackbass is not only a member of Crack, he also lives across the street from me with the Pea (and is also, incidentally, the crazy neighborhood drunk).
Andy F. knows a lot about computers. Andy F. was born on Jupiter. Like Popeye to spinach, so is Andy to whiskey. Many a Crack song has been penned in order to record the exploits of Andy F. for posterity. Some people like Andy when he's calm. Personally, I think he's at his best when the hour has grown late and the partying has rendered him chupacabra-like. Those moments when you're not sure whether Andy is going to tell you a joke or try to tear off your face are the moments when I enjoy Andy the most.

Roundball photo- take 2. Posted by Picasa

This is a photo of Roundball, my lovable, "special needs" brother. There's a lot I could say about Roundball (volumes, actually), but I guess in the spirit of laziness, I will refer you to his web site, The League of Melbotis.

I'm still figuring out this whole "posting pictures to the blog" thing, so bear with me folks (it's not that hard, but I'm having to scan pictures in since I don't have a digital camera).
How do I make pictures post on this damn thing? Is this Roundball?

Warning- long and potentially boring (although heartfelt) rant

I was listening to Air America last Friday, and the Jerry Springer show was just replaying some excerpts from Rush Limbaugh's show on Thursday. Countless angry callers were dialing Rush up, eager to get on the air and bitch about how the New Orleans refugees had "hit the jackpot" by having their homes and neighborhoods wiped out by Hurricane Katrina. A little later, while listening to KOOP 91.7 FM, and there was some young conservative guy who was bitching about the hurricane evacuees and all of the "free handouts" that they were receiving. This guy was angry because, in his mind, most of these people were poor before the hurricane, and now they're going to get their government disaster relief ands just go out and blow that money rather than getting jobs or trying to start their lives over in some meaningful way.
I was struck by two things after hearing these radio conversations.
First, it seems that there is a certain segment of the population which just doesn't like poor people.
There is a segment of the population which believes that poor people are inherently different than themselves, and that poor people are intrinsically lazy, parasitic, and deserving of their lot in life. This same segment of the population, by contrast, tends to see the wealthier echelons of society as somehow entitled to higher positions in the social hierarchy. In the case of the young conservative on KOOP radio, this is all the more perplexing, because (due to his young age) it's clear that he's still a student, in school, and probably not a self-made millionaire- a guy who most likely derives the vast majority of his wealth from his family. And there are many out there like him. Angry and relatively rich by way of not much more than good fortune. It's clear that this young guy largely believes that the fact that he has been born into fortunate circumstances, into an middle class to affluent family, somehow makes him superior as a person to the people who have less than him.
It's the classic hole in the conservative ideology- the presumption that there is a fair starting point somewhere in our lives where everyone is given an equal chance at being successful in life, and that from this point the most clever, resourceful, and talented among us will rise to the top in order to enjoy the bounty of life which they so richly deserve.
But that's bullsh*t. We don't get to chose who we're born to our what cricumstances we will be surrounded with when we enter the world. We aren't born at a common starting point. I, myself, was fortunate enough to be born into a family with two parents who both wanted the best for me in life, and who encouraged and aided me in my studies, paid for most of my college, and who made sure that I was clothed and fed and who made sure that I stayed out of trouble with the law and drugs. Less fortunate people may be born into situations where they may have only a single parent (or end up being raised by extended family), they may have parents in prison, have little or no emphasis on education (let alone money for college), drugs may be abused within their household or openly within their surroundings, and in which low wage jobs (or even crime) may be more urgent than schoolwork in order to keep the bills paid and food on the table.
All I'm saying is that we stand on the shoulders of our family and our community support system when we make our way in life. Some people are handicapped more than others right from the beginning. Yes, parents should have the opportunity to hand down the bounty of their labors to their children, but the right of wealthy parents to bestow blessings onto their kids does not make their segment of society inherently superior to a poorer segment, and the kids who are born without such gifts need to be given a chance to succeed as well. We all have weaknesses and vices. Rich people are just as likely to be doing drugs, committing crime, and a hundred other vices as poor people- they just snort powder cocaine instead of doing crack and take part in white collar insider trading or embezzlement schemes instead of robbing the local liquor stores.
So we're more alike than different, but we start in different places and we work with what we've got. Such is the philosophy of Steanso.
Which brings me to my second point. These radio people seem angry that the New Orleans evacuees are receiving disaster relief, but they seem angry not because these people didn't genuinely suffer, but because the victims of Katrina were poor in the first place, and now they might get a new start that would allow them to wind up better off than they were before.
I gotta ask, is that a bad thing? New Orleans has been a city which has been home to a large contingent of poor, mostly black families for a long, long time. This city has been in need of educational and vocational programs that might increase the living standards of its residents for a long, long time. People in New Orleans need to be more highly educated (in order to attract new business to the area and drive the economy) and there needs to be a higher rate of employment in the city (maybe some of these patriotic, American companies could move some of their manufacturing out of China or India and put those jobs back into our economy- a move which some claim would hurt American business, but which probably wouldn't hurt American business nearly as much as feared if the federal government would legislate some trade protections for our country). Basically, the hurricane has just drawn attention to the fact that these people were suffering before the floods and that the current administration has never had any interest in taking any steps to improve their lives. When a hurricane can take away everything that you have, but people start to tell you that you're probably going to be better off, what kind of f*cked up country were you living in in the first place?
Of course some critics will say that the evacuees will just blow their disaster relief money and go back to being poor. And for some, that may be true. It would probably be a good idea to make disaster relief contingent upon some showing that the recipient is looking for employment, entering school, or whatever, but even if people don't use their disaster relief money constructively, aren't they deserving of some kind of relief in order to make up for the fact that they have just lost everything that they owned? (it may not have been a mansion with a Lamborghini in the garage, but they did lose their home and belongings, right?) As with the possessions that they had before the hurricane, the disaster relief should be theirs to do with as they please. This shouldn't stop us from encouraging them to use the money to improve their lives, though.
Well, I'm tired. Those radio comments just kind of got me thinking about how this whole Katrina disaster has put American political philosophies under the microscope, though. Isn't there some famous quote about the way that a society treats the most downtrodden of its members being the true measure of that society? It just amazes me that some people seem to think that the evacuees are undeserving of support because they were poor in the first place. It's almost as if to say, "Wait?! We have to help these people? I thought we got rid of, I mean, er... were done with those people a long time ago.... I mean, Bush is still in office, right?"

Now let me get down off this big soapbox before I slip and break my neck...

Sunday, September 11, 2005

A quick post in order to share a letter with my readers that really got me thinking.

This letter was originally sent to the Kansas City School Board. It demands, in accordance with the dictates of the writer's religion, that The Flying Spaghetti Monster be included in public school textbooks as one of many viable theories of intelligent design (which is meant to be offered as an alternative to more "science-based" explanations of the universe, such as evolution and The Big Bang).

Personally, I grew up in a church which tried to find some harmony between the teachings of the Bible and advances in scientific discovery. I learned science in school and religion at home and in church. The people who taught me about religion were intelligent and wise enough to realize that the two paradigms (religion and science) were not mutually exclusive, and that strong beliefs in one did not preclude strong beliefs in the other (i.e., the religious believers of my childhood didn't feel threatened by science). For those people who insist upon the fact that the Bible is to be taken 100% literally, however, (demanding that scientific theories which "contradict" the Bible be dismissed out of hand or characterized as "mere" theory) may I at least insist, by way of fairness, that the "intelligent design" theories of all religions be treated equally? I believe that the Judeo Christian accounts of "intelligent design" need to be taught side by side with the creation tales of the Flying Spaghetti Monster so that the profound and deeply held beliefs of the FSM followers are not denigrated. Scoff at the FSM at your own peril. He's out there, somewhere, waiting to strike you down with his noodles for your heresy.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Just a quick post to bitch about something that I spotted while reading the Washington Post this morning. Apparently the 4th Circuit, in its infinite wisdom, has decided that during war time, it's ok for the federal government to indefinitely hold U.S. citizens who are siezed on American soil, even when no charges have even been filed against that person.

I know I'm just some silly, whiney criminal defense attorney, but that just ain't right. The guy whose case was in question on this case had been held for three years under suspicion that he might be a terrorist. Even Janet Reno, a woman who is by no account a softie and who used to be the foremost law enforcement official in the country under Clinton, joined a legal team which argued that such detentions were clearly unconstitutional. Man, this is just some ridiculous bullsh*t.
If the government is confident enough to take someone's life and liberty away from them (especially when that person is an American citizen who has been arrested on U.S. soil), the government ought to at least have enough evidence for a showing of probable cause to make an arrest and to file charges.
And I don't want to get into a bunch of legal technicalities, but it doesn't exactly take a slam dunk case to be able to at least be able to file charges against someone (the probable cause standard that is required in order to make the arrest and file charges is a much lower standard than proof beyond a reasonable doubt, which is required in order to convict). Judges frequently sign arrest warrants and search warrants after a showing of probable cause, even when the judge has serious doubts about whether enough evidence can be gathered to make the case stick in court (conviction in court requiring proof "beyond a reasonable doubt").
So what I'm saying is, you don't necessarily have to have a ton of evidence to get a case filed against someone, and now the 4th Circuit isn't even going to require that minimum amount of evidence in order for the government to lock a person away for years.
We are living in a time that is governed by fear and hysteria, and someday we will come to be aware and ashamed of the ways in which cowardice has brought us to act against ourselves. Someday the stories will come out (if the government does not effectively suppress them) of people who were wrongfully held for months and/or years in prison because the courts and the American people were duped into giving away our most basic constitutional freedoms and due process- all of this because a tiny band of terrorists tricked us into seeing boogeymen in every shadow for years and years after September 11th.
When the government loses accountability, we lose freedom. It's that simple. And when did all of these courts become so much smarter than the founding fathers and the two and a half centuries of legal precedent that came before them? I don't get it.

Friday, September 09, 2005

It's Friday, and this is gonna be short because... well... cause it's Friday and I've got less important junk to do.

I had a short morning in court today, and another meeting with the County Attorney's office which went fairly well (although no big news came out of it).

I had a very nice lunch with Jennifer, as well. It sounds like the civil cases that she's working on in her new position are pretty interesting.

I don't have a whole lot to say at the moment, and women's tennis is on (U.S. Open), so as an out-of-work lazy ass, I think I ought to go support our American women.

Maybe I'll post a little more later. Then again...

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Steanso spent most of his day in court today, including a lunchtime ethics seminar which was put on by some of the older attorneys who practice up at the courthouse.

There really just isn't a whole lot to report today. Weedo stopped by yesterday afternoon and we listened to Pink Floyd and The Flaming Lips and talked about the slow evolution of The Mono E and our lack of gigs. I think we came to the conclusion that The Mono E desperately needs a manager. We're a pretty good band, but we're also just 5 guys who like music. None of us are really into promoting stuff, especially when the thing that we're promoting is primarily us. Anyway, we need to start playing some more gigs (not constantly, but enough that we can show off some new stuff every month or two).

The news is chock full of Hurricane Katrina stories and the politics thereof. I just don't feel like I have too much to add to all of the shouting that's going on out there. I definitely feel like the disaster response should have been more efficient, and I find it amazing that the people at all levels of government were caught off guard by this attack (like I said before, if a couple of couch potatoes like Sigmund and myself were well aware of the pending disaster, then it seems like the government should have been ready). I think that the White House and FEMA acted far too slowly, but I also think that Louisiana politicians failed their constituents at the local level. People at all level of Louisiana and New Orleans city politics should have been making the reinforcement of the New Orleans infrastructure (to prevent hurricane damage and flood control) their top priority for the last decade, at least. The federal government slashed infrastructure funding (and therefore deserves much blame in its own right), but local politicians should have been standing on soap boxes, screaming for federal attention this entire time- telling the federal government that this disaster is definitely coming, and that only the intervention of the federal government could possibly prevent it. Maybe there was more of this clamoring for federal help going on than I realized, but it doesn't seem like the issue was very high up the priority list for state or (more amazingly) city government, despite the fact that all of the experts (and even the New Orleans newspaper) had long predicted that disaster was imminent. And we all know that our current federal government wasn't going to spend money on sh*t unless it was clear that the responsibility would land at their doorstep in the event that disaster occurred. The locals should have done more to shame the feds into doing what was necessary. That's all I'm saying.

And let me go ahead and say this now so that it doesn't somehow catch the government napping later- there's a really good chance that a really big earthquake will hit in California in the next decade or so. The U.S. Geological Survey says that there is a 67% chance that an earthquake of magnitude 6.7 or above will hit in the Bay Area in the next 30 years, and that there is a 60% chance that a quake of 6.7 magnitude or greater will hit in L.A. I don't know about you guys, but when the weather report says that there's a 60% chance for rain, I bring an umbrella.

And when the earthquake happens, there won't be time for ANYONE to evacuate. If people thought that New Orleans was devastating, imagine a large earthquake hitting L.A. without time for anyone to evacuate. If that disaster plays out, it's really gonna be hell on earth. Just wanted to give George and the kids at the White House a head's up on that. FEMA, I'm looking in your direction (wink, wink).

Well, that's all I got, and it ain't much. If you wanna be a manager for The Mono Ensemble (and who doesn't?), you can post a 2 to 3 sentence resume in the comments section. We'll be happy to share all of the money, fame, and groupies that this band has afforded us with our loyal manager.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Apparently some French biologists have discovered a species of parasitic hairworm which infects grasshoppers, devouring their insides before melding the worm genome with the grasshoppers' and causing the hoppers to instinctively leap into water and drown (thereby allowing the hairworm to complete its water-driven life cycle).

Have the Republicans already bioengineered this technology? Imagine it- Republican hairworms deployed into America's most financially impoverished communities in order to make poor people vote for a party which acts contrary to their interest in every possible way. These suicide worms could go so far toward explaining the last presidential election...
Hump Day again. Of course, this being a four day week, the humping has come upon us more quickly and more furiously than usual.

We had a good Crack practice last night. We played lots of songs and jammed a lot. We rocked quite a bit. We did not, however, play topical songs in order to reflect our obsession with catastrophe and the news media (see Mono Ensemble playing "When the Levee Breaks" by Zep and "New Orleans is Sinking" by The Hip at Monday practice). Despite popular demand, Crack may very well be playing a gig in October. If we play at Momo's, Kelly Gonzales can't come because she's in a quarrel with the owner. Anyway, I'll keep you posted.

Not too much else to report. Cold Play is the watered down version of Radiohead; Oasis is the watered down version of The Beatles (so sayeth Crack, so sayeth the flock). Rehnquist is dead, and Roberts is on his way to being confirmed. Crackbass is deathly afraid that Roberts is the anti-christ and has been professionally groomed so as to stay off of the political radar in anticipation of this moment. Crackbass may be right.

Kinky Friedman is running for governor of Texas, and I'm thinking I may support the man (the Democrats are gonna get schooled, anyway, and at least Kinky won't be afraid to get in there to fight and mix things up). Anyway, if he really wants a job working in the snake pit that is Texas politics, he'll probably get my vote. Here's his site:

One more shout out to Jennifer Kraber over there in civil law world. I'm really glad you're happier over there, Jennifer, but I (and we) miss you over in criminal court!

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Well, the Labor Day weekend was pretty much a success. On Friday I didn't do a whole lot (except stop by and visit with Jay). Saturday I took Cassidy to Barton Creek for some swimming, and Saturday night I had a few beers with Crackbass and watched the comings and going across the street at the Whorehouse. We played with the 4 wiener dogs who were staying at the Wilson house (2 guest wieners, plus Max and Lucy) while watching the cops argue with our neighborhood madame. On Sunday I went on a tubing trip with Kim and Sigmund and Rosa and Nathan and Lee and John and many other friends of Team Bloom. It was mucho fun, and Steanso drank quite a bit of beer. Since we had no radio on the river, we filled the musical void by singing drunken renditions of classic songs originally performed by such respected artists as Bonnie Tyler and Tiffany. Rosa and Nathan rode back to town with me and we stopped for barbecue, but there was very little singing. A hung over and exhausted Steanso stumbled through the door of the Hop-A-Long Lounge after the tubing trip only to find a message from Crackbass stating that he had suffered some unexpected difficulties at his house (it's a long story, but it involved a missing cat named Radar and Crackbass's panicked mother), and that his fajita dinner soiree that night needed to be moved to my house. I grumbled a bit, but agreed, and Crackbass came over and helped me straighten up my casa. An hour or so later I was drunk and happy again and people were eating fajitas at my house. The fajita dinner was fun, as well, and hopefully everyone had a good time. Rami even made me a drink or two (and boy, can that little elf scarf down some whiskey- dear lord!).
Sunday I had lunch with the Wilsons and Kelly and Sunday evening we had a pretty good Mono E practice.
Today I had a few cases in court, and now tonight I have Crack practice.

I'm having a good time watching all of these polticians try to dodge questions about what went wrong following Hurricane Katrina. I'm sure that all of the federal authorities will try to slowly shift the blame back to the local officials in Louisiana (even after they cut federal funding which was supposed to support the New Orleans flood control infrastructure). Anyway, they're scattering like roaches.

One last little anecdote to brag on my dog- on Saturday when I was down by Barton Springs with Cassidy, I ran into this little group of hippie girls who I periodically see down there, and they all remembered Cassidy because apparently they have decided that she is a "magical" dog. Now these girls all seemed really high, but they made me smile, especially when they explained that Cassidy was magical mostly because she has only three legs and yet still always seems to be having a lot of fun. I tried to point out that Cassidy doesn't know any better, but they would have none of it. Apparently she still impressed them with her "use what you've got" philosophy. Anyway, it was funny, and I do think that Cassidy is a pretty darn cool dog. I have met lots of people because of that dog, and she is willing to try just about anything. Sometimes she falls down, but her real magic is in the fact that she never lets her little accidents make her upset or get her down (and trust me, dogs, including Cassidy, are definitely capable of pouting). And Cassidy's positive attitude is not because she's just too stupid to know better. She will sometimes look at me when I ask her to do things (like jumping over concrete walls or climbing slippery creek banks) as though to say, "You gotta be kidding me...", but she's almost always willing to try things out with a teensy bit of coaxing, and usually to successful effect. She's too busy trying to have fun with other people and dogs to spend much time sulking or being afraid of anything. And in that, I may, in fact, have a magic dog. Ok. I'm done bragging.

Friday, September 02, 2005

This is a short addendum just to explain a change in my comments section. I've had to activate a word verification feature in the comments section because I keep getting spam from commercial sources in the comments section. I erase this spam as quickly as possible, but I can't keep up, so I'm gonna try this for awhile in order to block the spam programs before they clog the blog. I'm sorry if it's an inconvenience (but it's the spammers fault!). I think that the comments section is probably the best thing about The Adventures, so please continue to post comments, people!!!!
The federal government's response to the New Orleans tradgedy has been largely in keeping with the methods that the current administration has used to address the Iraq War, homeland security, the economy, rising gas prices, and any other large problems that the nation has run up against in the last 8 years- put mouthpieces with in front of the camera with pre-rehearsed talking points and spin the issue in a way that will mitigate the obvious fact that the federal government has been ineffective in handling the crisis.

This time, however, the mismanagement of the hurricane aftermath (and the failure to prepare for this long-predicted disaster ahead of time) is so obvious, widespread, and profound that even the White House's formidable P.R. machine is going to have a hard time obscuring the government's ineptitude. The amazing thing is that, nonetheless, they continue to try to spin the situation, literally telling people who are trapped without fresh water and who are strnaded beside the corpses of their neighbors that things are not all that bad. I swear to god that even Orwell would be amazed.

In a non-Katrina related bit of trivia (which we all need right now), Steanso got a notice in the email yesterday that his ACL tickets are still on the way! This fills Steanso with no small amount of happiness and relief.

Labor Day plans for Steanso are slim (in large part because Steanso is desperately trying to avoid spending much money). A tubing trip may be in the works for Sunday, once again involving Team Bloom.

I had mimosas and beers with Crackbass and Joe Turner's office staff up on the deck atop their office this afternoon before leaving for the weekend. It was a pleasant experience with a nice view. They seemed like nice folks.

Well, that's it for now. Have a nice Labor Day weekend, ya'll.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Thursday. Matters in New Orleans, by all accounts, just keep going from bad to really, really awful. It's all over the media, so I don't really see a lot of point in rehashing it here, but once again, if you can do anything to help out, you gotta do it, kids. We're all in this together. Once again, here's the Red Cross donation page:

And here's one of the first stones to be thrown in the direction of the White House and the
Republican leadership as questions arise in the wake of Katrina and (perhaps more importantly) regarding the failure of state and federal leaders to recognize the obvious dangers that led up to this disaster in the months and years before it occurred. If National Geographic and a bunch of other basic cable T.V. networks were prescient enough to predict this disaster (going so far as to produce television documentaries about the subject), why was the government caught so unaware? I know that the Republican response is going to be that this kind of disaster could not have been predicted, but that response is clearly and simply wrong. FEMA itself has stated that a hurricane strike on New Orleans has been listed among their top 3 most feared domestic disaster scenarios for several years, comparable to other nightmare scenarios such as a possible nuclear attack within the U.S. or a large scale earthquake in Los Angeles.

In the face of these kinds of predictions, what action did our Republican leadership take? Here ya go:,1,2364215.story?coll=chi-news-hed

Apparently Congress and The White House have been slashing the budgets for the Army Corps of Engineers and the City of New Orleans for several years, including a cut of at least $30 million (and that was for only one of the funding requests) to a fund designated to help with improvements to the New Orleans levee system and flood control. At least 7 levee improvement projects were put on hold in the past year due to inadequate funding, funding which was diverted, at least in some part, to support the war in Iraq. As touched on by the author of my linked New York Times article, I guess that it's gonna be awhile before this administration takes on the problems like global warming since they couldn't even seem to envision a scenario in which one of our Gulf Coast cities was struck by a major hurricane (despite the fact that Florida has been relentlessly pummelled by storms over the last two years).

In the back of my mind, I can't get over a fact that I've been kind of trying to overlook. The people left behind in New Orleans after the general evacuation order were poor and mostly black. Poor, black people don't make up much of the Republican base. Would the government's response have been this slow if a storm wiped out some area that had been filled with middle or upper class white folks? I don't know (there's probably a lot of flat-out incompetence, regardless of race issues), but it's bugging me. One thing's for sure- the poor got screwed on this one, once again.